Stroud, Jonathan

The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne

(2) YA In a dystopic Britain of the future, drastic events have left the land awash or turned it into a radiation-contaminated and desolate wilderness "infested with bandits, blood-otters, and wolves"--not to mention cannibalistic humans called "the Tainted." "Normal" people live in scattered fortified Surviving Towns; anyone identified with a perceived deformity or abnormality is cruelly tortured or killed. Scarlett McCain has survived thanks to her wits, agility, and talents as a bank robber, but when she rescues hapless, unworldly Albert Browne after a strange bus accident, even she is amazed by the pursuit that ensues. Men, dogs, guns, explosives, and the mysteriously invincible Mrs. Calloway, Albert's former jailer, are never far behind as the two make their way by raft to the refuge of the Free Isles down the Thames River. Incisive, elegant action scenes, stuffed with daredevil escapes and shoot-'em-up confrontations, keep the story racing along in a turbulent stream of suspense and relief. Stroud's (author of the Bartimaeus trilogy and the Lockwood & Co. series) characteristic humor--irony, sarcasm, a witty quickness--lightens the tale's more dire themes of abuse and psychological damage. The story establishes a context and partnership that suggest future escapades, with characters ripe for development, plenty of unanswered questions, and a tantalizing treasure heist in the offing.


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